22:04 GMT06 May 2021
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    On Tuesday, a Norwegian court will examine the state's appeal against a ruling that right-wing extremist and mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik has been treated inhumanely since being jailed for slaying 77 fellow Norwegians nearly six years ago.

    Anders Behring Breivik (file)
    © AFP 2021 / POOL / HEIKO JUNGE
    In April, a lower court stirred an outrage when it found that Breivik's rights were violated when he had to endure ‘inhumane' and ‘degrading' treatment in prison. The decision that called for relaxed prison conditions particularly disturbed family members of the victims, yet was hailed as humanity's victory over the ruthless killer by some survivors.

    "We hope that the state wins this new round and that justice manages to dig deeper into the case," Lisbeth Kristine Royneland, the head of the family support group, whose own 18-year-old daughter was shot dead by Breivik in the killing spree on Utøya island, said as quoted by Swedish Radio.

    At present, 37-year-old Anders Behring Breivik is imprisoned in a 31.5-square-meter three-cell complex in Skien. One of the cells is used as a living room, the other as a studio, whereas the third one is a gym. This is an improvement compared with his former dwelling in Ila prison complex, where the cells only were about eight square meters each, Norwegian daily Dagbladet reported.

    Breivik is allowed to move freely between the cells between 07:30 and 19:30. Each cell has a window reached by daylight. The main cell has a toilet, washbasin, shower, desk and chair, as well as a TV-set with an integrated DVD player, a video game console, closet, refrigerator and bed. Breivik is allowed to cook and wash clothes. He also has access to a computer without internet connection as well as an electric typewriter. Breivik is also allowed to read books and newspapers. The training cell has a treadmill, an exercise mat and several training devices.

    Breivik is allowed to take daily walks in the prison yard. Since December 2015, he has been granted longer promenades accompanied by three prison officers. During the day, Breivik is checked every hour by prison officials, which may involve up to half an hour long negotiations through metal bars. Every week, Breivik is visited by the priest for hour-long conversations. Additionally, Breivik is visited by a social consultant who helps Breivik in education. Breivik is reported to be interested in history and political science.

    Beyond these seemingly comfortable material conditions, a district court judge had previously ruled that security measures took excessive precedence over human rights. Breivik was found to be kept "in a prison within a prison," with insufficient social activities. The court ruling also questioned the numerous strip searches, the systematic use of handcuffs and other frequent awakenings at night, especially in the early days of his imprisonment, as "potentially humiliating."

    Breivik's mother was the last person outside of the prison personnel who visited her son shortly before her death of cancer in 2013. Breivik reportedly stopped contact with other family members. According to court documents, he also stopped communicating with a woman, with whom he previously conducted 99 supervised telephone conversations, each of them about 20 minutes long.

    Attorney General Fredrik Sejersted insisted that there was no evidence to support the thesis that Breivik was physically or mentally affected by his prison conditions.

    On July 22, 2011, Breivik carried out two attacks, first killing eight people at the foot of a government building in Oslo with a bomb. Then, disguised as a policeman, he went on to kill 69 participants in a Labor Party youth camp on the Utøya island. Breivik, who later claimed he killed his victims because they valued multiculturalism, was handed a "life sentence," which in Norway actually means 21 years in prison, a term that can be extended if he is still considered a threat.


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